Dick Miller, the veteran character actor best known for his role as Murray Futterman in the 1984 film Gremlins, has died at the age of 90.
Miller made hundreds of screen appearances during a career that spanned six decades.
His first role was in Roger Corman’s 1955 western Apache Woman.
The US actor went on to appear in films like The Terminator, Piranha and the original 1960 version of The Little Shop of Horrors.
Miller was born in The Bronx on 25 December 1928. He served in the US Navy before attending the City College of New York and Columbia University.
An aspiring writer turned actor, he collaborated with director and producer Corman on more than 20 films.
Though he was usually a supporting actor, he had a rare starring role as the artist and murderer Walter Paisley in Corman’s 1959 horror, A Bucket of Blood
The Walter Paisley name would follow Miller throughout his career.
In 1976, Gremlins director Joe Dante made his directorial debut with Hollywood Boulevard.
Dante decided to name Miller’s character Walter Paisley as a nod to Corman, the film’s producer.
Miller became a regular in Dante’s films, playing characters named Walter Paisley in almost all the films they made together. They include 1981 werewolf horror The Howling.
Dante broke with the tradition in 1984, giving Miller one of his most memorable roles – the drunk Murray Futterman – in horror comedy Gremlins.
Futterman was a World War II veteran who is paranoid about anything made abroad.
Although the character appeared to be killed when gremlins drove a snow plough through his house, Miller returned to the role for 1990 sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
Dante paid tribute to Miller in a series of tweets on Thursday, describing him as “one of my best friends and most treasured collaborators.”
I'm devastated to report that one of my best friends and most treasured collaborators has passed away. I "grew up" (kinda) watching Dick Miller in movies from the 50s on and was thrilled to have him in my first movie for @RogerCorman… (1/2)https://t.co/TEsacH8SUW
— Joe Dante (@joe_dante) January 31, 2019
Though Miller never became a major Hollywood star, he was highly respected within the film industry.
Many actors and directors that worked with him have paid tribute on social media, including Gremlins star Zach Galligan and horror director John Carpenter.
A great actor, and an even better person.
So privileged to have worked with you. You taught this young actor so much.
My condolences to Lainie and his children.
This one hurts a lot.
Rest in peace, Dick. And thank you.
Richard 'Dick" Miller
— Zach Galligan (@zwgman) January 31, 2019